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The One Question Steve Jobs Asked Himself Every Day

The One Question Steve Jobs Asked Himself Every Day

Steve Jobs, whom most of us know for his work at the helm of Apple, looked in the mirror every day of his working life and asked himself one question: “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?” Most of the time, his answer came back as a resounding yes, but for the average person, it probably varies. So passionate about his work was Jobs that he worked right up until the day before his death, despite suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Minda Zetlin discusses the benefits of asking ourselves this question each day in terms of how it can help us to discover whether or not we’re fulfilling our full potential and working in the careers we love. Asking this question can help us to cultivate a sense of purpose in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. Here are 6 questions that Steve Jobs’s daily exercise can challenge us to ask ourselves.

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1. Does your work make you smile?

No job is perfect. We all have to deal with the demands of schedules, cranky coworkers, long hours, and mind-numbing tasks. But I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, if I’ve smiled just once as a result of my work, it’s all been worth it. Smiling at work reminds you that you’re doing something, however small, in your daily routine that you find fulfilling.

2. How tired do you feel at the end of the day?

There seem to be two kinds of exhaustion: the well-earned readiness for rest after a challenging but productive day, and the weariness of feeling like you’ve climbed a mountain only to find yourself at the bottom having to face the same drudgery tomorrow. If you’re living according to the philosophy of Steve Jobs, you should, at least most days, experience the first rather than the second form of exhaustion. Going to bed with the feeling that you’ve accomplished something means two things: that you’re using your talents in a way that you find fulfilling and that you’re contributing productively to the world around you.

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3. Is your work rewarded?

I’m not talking about formal recognition, though being named employee of the month certainly doesn’t harm your professional credentials. Rather, do people appreciate the work that you do? Do colleagues thank you for your work, compliment your dedication, and tell you how well you do your job at least occasionally? Mental and physical health are intertwined, and the emotions, both negative and positive, that we carry around with us in the workplace often follow us home. Working in an environment where you feel valued not only contributes to your professional success, but helps you to avoid bringing bad vibes into your home and squandering your “downtime” with thoughts about overwork or office politics.

4. Do you have any regrets?

Other than the triple latte you probably shouldn’t have ordered on the way to work because it went completely off your diet, what do you regret about the way you’re living your life? When we’re unhappy, we tend to focus on what we could be doing rather than what we’re doing in the moment. Minda Zetlin points out that some of the biggest regrets we have are due to a fear of failure. Changing careers, pursuing more education, or learning a new skill can come with risks. Sometimes you’ll succeed, sometimes you won’t, but it’s far better to try and fail than to spend your life wondering whether or not you would have succeeded.

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5. Does your work consume your life?

It’s commonly said that no one ever dies wishing they’d worked more. Not all jobs allow you to leave your work on the desk at 5 o’clock, particularly in the digital age, but that doesn’t mean your work has to control your life. Set boundaries when and where you can. Sit down to dinner with your family when time permits. Squander a few minutes of reading the latest novel on your morning commute or on the treadmill. Find ways to fill your life with variety to give yourself a reason to face each day with something to get excited about.

6. Do you feel stimulated?

One of the things I love about my work as a teacher and a writer is that I’m always learning something, whether through research or a conversation with my students that challenges me to examine the world from a different angle. Meeting with challenges or learning new things in your work keeps your mind active and broadens your knowledge and skill set, but it can also help to spice up the monotony of the everyday routine. Whether you’re a housewife or a hedge-fund manager, having mentally or physically stimulating work to do can increase your sense of productivity and self-esteem. Nothing compares with the satisfaction of setting yourself a task and completing it.

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Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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